Monday, November 22, 2010

My Baking Tips & Tricks

Around the Holidays, I feel like everyone at least attempts to put on a baker's hat and apron in hopes of baking an amazing Holiday treat. And hopefully I can add some help. Trust me I've definitely had my fair share of baking catastrophes and learned a few things over the years. The first time I ever attempted a cookie it turned out more like a muffin...horrible and now I try to avoid muffin cookies at all costs! Here's what I've found that helps.

1.) Soften your butter to room temperature before creaming it with your sugars. It's never really recommended to soften in the microwave so if you need to soften it quickly, you can cut it up or grate it and it'll soften much quicker. I always use butter for the flavor but sometimes when I want a really tender cookie, I add just a little shortening. Because shortening has no water, while butter does. Water can mix with the flour forming glutens that make a tougher cookie.

2.) I love love love chewy cookies! To make cookies chewier, try just using the yolk of an egg and not the whites, only using brown sugar and baking it a couple minutes less than the recommended baking time. Also, when you cream the butter and sugar, be careful not to cream it too much, incorporating a lot of air into the cookie. You can also use shortening, because it has a higher baking temperature, the cookie won't spread as much.

3.) Check the expiration date on your baking soda and powder. Yes they do expire. If they are expire, throw it away they won't be effective in baking anymore. And sift your flour.

4.) Pre-crack your eggs into a separate bowl, that way if you get shells in, it's a lot easier to pull out and if you get a bad egg it won't ruin your batter. Add eggs in one at a time and let it incorporate before adding the next egg.

5.) Pull your cookies out of the oven just when the edges are brown and the center still looks a little under baked. It'll continue cooking on the sheet. If your cookies look done in the oven, chances are they're over baked and will be dry and crispy.

6.) I like to chill the dough at least 1/2 hour before baking. It helps with the consistency of your dough and your cookies will spread less in the oven.

7.) Use shiny baking sheets, dark pans absorb more heat and can cause over browning.

8.) Make sure you're using a cool cookie sheet. If you're cookie sheet is warm, your cookies may spread too much.

9.) Any other questions? Feel free to ask. I'll help if I can! Happy Baking!

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